Please Come Back to Earth and Be Here

Spiritual life

by Jayaram V

The "get-rich-schemes" paraded on the Internet and in email spams are probably the worst examples of idealism to which many people succumb. In reality, they are not much different from the idealism many spiritual agencies, advertisement companies, ideologues, and politicians project to attract people into their self-serving schemes. Whoever promises to change your world and create heaven on earth, know that they are offering you an impossible dream and exploiting your need for security and comfort. Since the earliest times, people have been fooled by impossible dreams, and yet, they keep believing in it recurrently. Your desires, needs and wants constitute your vulnerability, which the smarter ones exploit with their cunningness to make personal profit.

Jiddu Krishnamurthy noticed it when he said, "Ideals can never bring about a fundamental revolution, but only modified continuity of the old." He regarded idealism as nothing more than a mere dream when he said, "The myth, the ideal, is unreal. It is a self-projected escape, it has no actuality." According to him the ideal is a projection of the mind, a part of thought, or an illusion, that has no transcendental aspect about it. It is limited to the mind, and just a thought in itself. It is one of the many illusions the mind creates to keep people feel safe and hopeful.

Why do we pursue ideals? In the words of Krishnamurthy, we pursue them because we look to them as rewards, or prized possessions, which we can claim as our own and take pride in being associated with them. For example, I may have many weaknesses, but if I claim myself as a champion of the poor (an ideal), I can compensate for all my weaknesses and feel good about it. In the process, I can speak proudly about the poor and champion their cause in the backdrop of an ideology, ignoring that millions of people live in deplorable conditions and about a million of poor women and girls are forced into prostitution every year in various parts of the world. (Do we not have many people in the world who do it habitually in the full glare of camera lights?) To quote Krishnamurthy again, "The pursuit of the ideal is the search for reward...The ideal is a compensation, a fictitious state which the mind has conjured up." It prevents you from noticing the current reality and avoid the discomfort it may cause.

If this is confusing enough for you, let me illustrate it. God is the ideal most people pursue, seeking Him as the reward for their religious effort. They worship Him and want to attain Him to own Him and make Him their own. When you look at the world today and see how each religion tries to claim God as their own (reward) you understand the point. In the pursuit of the ideal they ignore the current reality that the religions they practice also cause a lot of misery to everyone around. When your ideals clash with the ideals of others, it results in conflicts, communal clashes and even wars. Since they remain focused upon the idealism of God instead of their true character and behavior, the religions they practice also fail to improve them morally or ethically. Hence, you have a lot of dishonest people who hide behind the cloak of religion and promote their own selfish agendas.

This is not confined to religion alone. Look at the social, political, and economic ideologies people pursue with zeal. For example, socialism and communism are mere theoretical possibilities. They can never be established in this world in their true sense, because Nature perpetuates competition among species, and relies upon inequality and diversity to achieve its aims. Uniqueness is the distinguishing characteristic of every object and living being in the world. Yet, millions of people are fooled to believe in the ideals of socialism and communism and pursue them, under the assumption that they can somehow defy logic and prove everyone wrong.

Since the ideals can never be achieved, they do not bring true transformation of anything. They just excite people and keep them engaged in their pursuit, until they find another ideal and pursue it. Even if the ideals are proved wrong, people cling to them because they do not want to live without hope or the illusion of hope. Hence, to quote Krishnamurthy again, Ideals do not bring a fundamental change in our existence "but only a modified continuity of the past." The basic problems, which they try to address, do not go away, they just become different.

Politicians keep fooling people with promises of changing the present and heralding a new era, but it never happens, because they speak about ideals, which are remote possibilities. They serve them to delude people into believing that by following them they will have a better future. Hence, during each election cycle people get fooled by promises of change and ideological talk that are rarely fulfilled.

If ideals are not helpful to improve your situation, then what is the alternative? The alternative is to be practical and realistic, and accept the current reality as the starting point for your progress. Instead of tailoring your solutions to suit an ideal, you should find solutions according to your current reality. It is the best way to be in charge of your life and feel empowered to deal with it.

Your focus should be on the current reality, which you should know as truthfully and clearly as you can, without feeling resentful, or negative. If you focus on the current reality, you will find real solutions according to your circumstances. You will not buy an expensive luxury car because your concept of an ideally successful life dictates it; you will buy it only if you need it. In short, you will not gallop into future like Don Quixote, with a set mind and attitude, without any deference to your current reality.

If you focus on the ideals, rather than the current reality, you will not address the real problems. You will just delude yourself into believing that you are doing something about your life and your future. You should know that when you focus on future your present reality keeps becoming ignored. When you pursue ideals, without any reference to your current reality, your gaze shifts from the earth to the heaven or to the stars, and your head remains in the clouds. Hence, to make progress in your life, the following are worth remembering.

1. Change your focus from your ideals to your current reality. Accept your current reality as the basis for your thoughts, decisions, plans and actions.

2. Know that you become unhappy, resentful or guilty, as you measure yourself against your ideals and feel inadequate. Instead, focus on who you are, and what you can do within your means to improve your life and conditions.

3. Find practical solutions to your current problems according to your current situation rather than looking for ideal solutions suggested by dreamers and ideologues.

4. Set realistic, measurable and achievable goals and work for your improvement.

5. Do not trust any ideologue, politician, or a business person who promises change without offering concrete solutions.

6. Know that you can change yourself, but you cannot change much of anything, outside of yourself.

Thought to explore: Am I suggesting here an ideal way to deal with ideals? Then ignore this and think for yourself.

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